Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Value vs. Price

While shredding old files today I found the receipt for my Birkenstock sandals from 2004. They cost $110.

Yes, that sounds like a lot to some, and quite frankly to me too! Other than work shoes, I was not in the habit of purchasing footwear with such a price tag when I didn't deem the item a necessity.

By virtue of being diabetic, my podiatrist has convinced me that if I want to keep my feet I have to wear good shoes no matter if they're vegan or not. My son had a pair of Birks he swore by. I needed new sandals. I went to The Walking Company and looked.

Generally accustomed to buying $9.99 sandals off a rack at Payless or Target, I was at the point where I no longer could risk shoes rubbing uncomfortably on my feet so I gave in and tried on many pairs of pricier than I'd like summer footwear. I settled on the Birks, took them to the register and cringed as I signed the slip.

I took them home and have worn the heck out of them for six years now. Other than having to punch some extra holes in the straps when my feet got a little thinner after some weight loss, the shoes require little care and show little wear. Mind you I wear them in the rain, to the CSA farm, to theme parks, you name it. They're definitely not lightly used by any definition of the term.

So in my sixth spring/summer/fall of their use I feel very good about their value. They're showing no sign of needing replacement and I feel fairly confident in having them for at least another six years to come, if not more. If my foot changes shape again and they're no longer suitable to me they'll be inherited by my spouse who tends to eventually swipe all my gender-neutral footwear anyway.

Initial Cost $110 (Yes, I still cringe when I look at that.)

Value per year with six years of use - 18.34

Value per year for twelve years of use - 9.17

So at this point I'm ahead of the $20-$30ish trendy sandal of the year at mid-price retailers. In another six years I'll have broken past the $9.99 Payless cheapie per year price and if they last even longer (which I suspect they will as one can have them re-corked if needed) I won't have had to add who knows how many pairs of sandals and the energy and materials used to produce them to the world's eventual trash stream. Yes, the re-corking comes with a fee, but better to maintain and repair what I have than to replace if not necessary, right?

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